Canada and USA primed for Gold Coast clash
There are 24 matches on day one of the 2012 Gold Coast Sevens, including an enticing encounter between North American rivals USA and Canada.
The two sides are likely to become more familiar than in previous years due to Canada's qualification as a core team on the HSBC Sevens World Series, but the pools have seen them drawn together in the first of nine rounds.
Both teams qualified for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow at the recent NACRA Sevens Championship, but it was the Canucks who edged their rivals in the final, and head coach Geraint John is anticipating another great match between the two sides.
"We always seem to be drawn against them at the moment," said John.
"There is a rivalry amongst us. We get on as a group of staff and players off the pitch and we enjoy each others company.
"Some of the technical aspects almost go out of the window when we play each other because we just want to win the game, but hopefully that won't come into it at the weekend."
USA Sevens captain Shalom Suniula agrees with John, but believes the defeat to Canada in the NACRA Sevens has set the platform for a rematch here in Australia.
"We had NACRA Sevens and we let that game get to us," said Suniula.
"We had emotional ties to it though which always happen when we have these local derby tournaments.
"It [the defeat] has set the platform for us. When we do play them there is an emotional tie, we shouldn't but it does happen. We need to focus on what we do best and leave the emotional side of things.
"It is a tough pool, but all of them are tough, the fact we have Canada though makes it more exciting."
As well as each other the North American rivals have been drawn against defending Series champions New Zealand and 2008/09 Series winners South Africa.
Compete against the best
"There are two other teams in the pool," added Canada coach John.
"The world number one New Zealand and South Africa too, but these are the teams we want to measure ourselves against.
"We are here to compete and play against the best. If we want to progress and become a team nobody wants to play against we need to do well and that is what we want to get out of this weekend, to see where we are and where we need to improve so we can move on for the rest of the Series."
Canada qualified as a core team alongside Spain and Portugal in Hong Kong, and John has been able to lead into the Series with preparation he is happy with.
His players have been centrally based on Vancouver Island, and they now have 17 players training every single day which he hopes will pay dividends at the end of the season.
"It was pleasing we won in Hong Kong and we have worked really hard since then to prepare for Gold Coast.
"If you look at somebody like Phil Mack for example, he brings a wealth of talent and knowledge of the game.
"He was part of the team that was on the core team prior and he has been wanting to get back on the circuit as a core team since.
"But it is reward for the hard work all the players have put in, they are all looking forward to it. Since Hong Kong, the training has intensified and the willingness has increased.
"We have an exciting group of players, three under the age of nineteen. This summer being an Olympic year has added an extra spice, and they know in four years time they could be part of Rio."